Friday, 1 March 2013

A Day of Pleasure and Sadness

I met up with Twitter friend Kathryn yesterday and it was lovely to see her. I have been in the doldrums recently and I was telling her briefly about it. She asked if that was the reason I'd stopped blogging and I said yes opining that when in a depressed state I find communicating in any intellectual sense quite difficult. In fact communication of any kind becomes difficult. All I want to do is be on my own and the slightest thing irritates me. So Twitter which normally stimulates and entertains becomes a pain in the backside. I think that whilst I have a really good sense of humour I am in essence a fairly serious person and I look for meaningful social interactions. I have never been adept at social chit chat. I accept that chit chat can be a preamble to more serious discussions but then again often it's not. 

Anyway all of this emotional masturbation became as nothing when today I went to pick up my sister in law up from the residential care home where she is staying.  To see this once vibrant woman sitting in a semicircle with a group of other elderly people was heartbreaking. The joy on her face when she caught sight of me was undeniable and I was delighted to be able to take her out for lunch and to spend some time catching up with her. I have not seen her since before Xmas. We were due to meet up in the new year but then she deteriorated and she was taken into care. We arranged again to meet up with her and the snow arrived. Then some of the residents succumbed to Novovirus and the home was closed to the public and so the obstacles to seeing her mounted. Finally, as I said, today we made it. 

After the usual preambles I was able to glean that Joyce can see the positives of being in care but she clearly feels the lack of autonomy and is of the opinion that they, the residents, are infantilised. Now I'm not being critical of the carers who all seem very kind and attentive and it must be difficult not to mother someone who is gradually unlearning everything they know. However, taking care of everything for someone seems to hasten the dementia process. I don't know whether that's true but that's how it seems. I repeat I haven't seen my sister in law for a couple of months and though on one hand she seemed more cheerful on the other she seemed to have aged considerably.

Joyce has always been an incredibly smart woman. She was in the ATS in the forties and her appearance has always been of importance. When I picked her up she was casually attired in jogging pants with no makeup. It just wasn't her. She told me that she has her hair done regularly but she misses her makeup. Is it me or in caring for our elderly do we fail to see their differences and instead submit them to old fashioned parenting which is keep them clean, keep them quiet?

I understand that there are plans to move her to a home nearer to me. I have promised her to keep in regular touch to give her some respite. I wrote this post with a heavy heart thinking of years gone by when we were young and life was very different.